Raccoon Tail

Last night at 3am while I lay on the sofa with insomnia I posted on my Instagram feed a carefully cropped photo of a woman I saw the other day wearing a racoon tail as a fashion statement and I called her a “Loser Fur-Hag“. Some of you were upset by my comments and said that as a vegan I should have been more compassionate and I shouldn’t have insta-shamed her.

10727256_733869546697353_505236859_nOk. I hear you. I hear that my words could be hurtful … but when I saw that dismembered tail hanging from the back of her pants my thoughts weren’t of that woman’s feelings. All my thoughts were of that poor beautiful racoon that was hunted, murdered and cut up into pieces for a fashion statement.

Most people think of racoons as nuisance animals and like rats, crows and squirrels they are murdered every day without any thought because they are encroaching on our space. Well … truth is we are encroaching on their space and they are just trying to survive in an environment that no longer includes them. We have paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

I spend 99% of my day patiently being compassionate towards people in my surroundings who are not vegan. Throughout my day I try and plant hopeful and positive seeds of vegan change in a gentle and non-judgy way but every once in a while when I see someone being so utterly overt with their lack of compassion towards animals I lose my shit.

Cute-Raccoon-Image-07Truth be told – when I looked at this raccoon tail – all I see is my dog’s tail. Can you imagine if someone walked up to Fergus, chopped off his tail and wore it as a fashion statement?

To me – it’s the same crime. Dog = cat = racoon = chinchilla and seeing that tail hanging of the butt off that ignorant woman made my blood boil.

We did such good work in the late 80′s/90′s shedding light onto the horrors of the fur industry. Fur wearing was on a steady decline because of our radical action towards the industry. Where is that now? What is this generation of compassionate humans doing to stop the fur trade? From what I see in pop culture – fur as a fashion statement is bigger than ever. That means we as a community are failing. Maybe it’s time for all of us to step up our activism.

We need to be the voice for animals!!!

I’m not saying that my insta-post was good or bad – I’m just saying it is what it is. Using a pejorative term like “fur-hag” isn’t the nicest thing I could say – but I challenge you to take a look at your own instagram feed. Are you making fun of hipsters with beards? Are you mocking Renee Zellwegers face? Are you bashing a restaurant because your meal wasn’t perfect?

You don’t have to like everything I post on Instagram but I am entitled to my opinion. I mean … it can’t all be about cute dogs, food and selfies. ;)

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Class of ’86

I saw my friend Leslie a few months back and she gave me some negatives from our Grade 12 Grad. I took them down to London Drugs and had them turned into photos. When’s the last time you did that?? ;)

In amongst the photos of pastel prom dresses and ill fitting tuxedos were a couple of photos of me and my grad date Todd.

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It’s SO COOL seeing these photos. Up until today I  only have one grainy Polaroid of us dressed up for grad – so seeing these photos 28 years later is such a trip!!

My dress was hand-sewn by the wardrobe mistress at my Dad’s theater company. I pulled out photos from various vintage magazines and showed her what I wanted. It fit me like a glove. The rhinestone necklace is something I still have and wear.

It’s no wonder that when Todd and I walked into the ballroom everyone stopped talking and turned to look at us. We look like heathens with our matching mohawks! :)

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Sarah’s Vegan Guide to Downtown Victoria

screen-captureJust updated Sarah’s Vegan Guide to Downtown Victoria.

Download PDF here!

 

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DIY DNA

10593278_758307684211266_1730592256_nI had a great time at the Thinklandia event DIY/DNA.  :)

I did a short presentation called How My DIY Project Became My Career and then sat on a panel and discussed DIY Culture in Victoria BC. The whole night was so fun …

It’s the first “professional” thing I’ve done since the cancer diagnosis and it was nice to be out and about again and just be my regular vegan superstar self. ha ha.

Below is a transcript of my presentation. We were only allowed 6-10 minutes and I tried to make it brief but I probably could have talked about this subject for 3 hours. Ha ha. Let me know what you think of it. :)

I first want to say that I’m probably going to have a hot flash while I do my presentation. I’m in the throws of menopause and it’s a nightmare. So if you want to see a middle-aged woman have a hot flash. Sit down and enjoy the show.

The number one question I get is “how do I turn my DIY project into my career?” and truth be told I don’t think there is a magic answer. In our case it was a matter of right place/right time but also when someone handed me the ball – I was prepared and I ran with it.

My first cookbook was HIAV but a lot of people don’t know that it actually started as a 50 page zine that we printed and bound ourselves in my living room.

2Behold. The magic of Publisher 98.

We first gave them away as gifts for x-mas and response was so overwhelming that we made 1000 more copies started selling them at punk rock shows and via the internet (which in 1998 was a brand new baby at the time).

We sold out almost immediately and I had a light bulb go off and I naively thought “Let’s get a book deal”. I wrote a cheeky book proposal and we did some research on publishers. It was important to me to have someone Canadian, hopefully a publisher that was local but most importantly I wanted a publisher that had similar politics and wouldn’t stifle our message about veganism because even though on the surface it looks like just a cookbook – it’s actually is a political manifesto about vegansim and with it we are trying to end animal suffering but we are presenting it in a fun and appetizing way because it’s a cookbook.

So we sent out 6 or so book proposals but in truth there was only one publishing house that we wanted and that was Arsenal Pulp in Vancouver. We put all the book proposals in the mailbox but the Arsenal envelope we saved for last. We even kissed it before we put it in the mailbox. And 3 days later Brian Lam from Arsenal Pulp called with an offer to publish our book.

I don’t think that’s how it normally happens but …I really think we got lucky with right place/right time but because we were prepared HIAV became the best selling book Arsenal Pulp has had to date and that success begat our second book Garden of Vegan.

10After Garden of Vegan – Tanya decided to leave our partnership to pursue a career in nursing and I decided to keep riding the vegan wave. My solo book La Dolce Vegan was a huge success and then came Vegan A Go-Go, 2 years of Go Vegan calendars and an iphone app called Go Vegan w/Sarah Kramer.

After 10+ years of writing books I decided I wanted to take a little break from writing and stretch some other creative muscles so I opened Sarah’s Place – which was a vegan lifestyle boutique in Market Square in 2011.

So while I don’t think there is one way to turn your DIY project into a career – I would like to share with you a few of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the last 15 years of being a vegan superstar.

12I know it doesn’t sound very punk rock to have a lawyer but if you decide to go into business for yourself – whether it’s to be a vegan cookbook author or an artist or to open up your own business. Eventually you’re will need a lawyer.

When I opened Sarah’s Place (my little vegan boutique) Market Square handed me a lease was over 75 pages long and as thick as a phonebook.

You need a lawyer who can make sure you’re not signing something you can’t get out of. I can’t tell you how many of my friends have called me freaking out because they signed some shitty book deal.

They were SO flattered to be offered a book deal that they didn’t even bother to read the contract. You have to have someone look at the contract and make sure it’s something you actually want to sign.

13I know it doesn’t sound very punk rock to have a business plan. But I have found that anytime you start a new project having a business plan is very handy.

Every single project I’ve worked on starts with me daydreaming with a pad of paper and a pen. Having a business plan allows you to streamline your idea and when it’s down on paper you can refer back to it when you’re feeling lost and you can make sure you’re headed towards your original goal.

14When you start a business plan – you have to ask What Is The Goal? As creative people we are all bubbling over with ideas so it’s important when you start a new project to have a specific goal in mind so you can boil your ideas down to a simple condensed idea.

Your business plan doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be as simple as a list of things things that are important to you.

For example with HIAV and all my other cookbooks I knew that my audience wasn’t just punk rock vegans. My goal was to make the vegan lifestyle simple, not intimidating and most importantly accessible to everyone no matter where you live.

So if you lived in San Fran or Vancouver or Regina Saskatchewan these were easy to make recipes with easy to find ingredients. You could go to Safeway and get everything you needed for a well balanced vegan meal.

The same when we opened Tattoo Zoo. We wanted to create a shop that catered to EVERYONE not just cool kids. We wanted your daughter, your mother and your grandmother to feel comfortable in our shop and we want to give you a beautiful quality tattoo.

Same with Sarah’s Place. My goal was to serve an under served client-base in town and on the web. I also wanted a business that was related to my cookbooks. I wanted to support and promote vegan products. About 80% of what i sold was made by people that I know and almost everything was hand made or made by someone who was making a cool product that also happened to be vegan. And lastly I wanted a place where I could bring my dog to work.

15Whatever project you are working on – make it special. When I started writing cookbooks I realized that there are a thousand and one cookbooks in the marketplace and I didn’t want to be like everyone else.

I spent a lot of time looking at other cookbooks and made a list of what I liked and more importantly what I didn’t like – then I added it to my business plan so that when it came time to work on the cookbook I had a clear vision of what I wanted and I was able to voice my vision when working with the Arsenal team. I wanted to do something recognizable as a cookbook but also unique.

I saw Paul Smith (the UK mensware designer) talking about his work and how he looks for that “squirt of lemon” in everything he does and it really resonates with me.

You know when you might go on a lovely holiday and everything’s perfect and then on the last night you’re putting some lemon on your meal and some juice goes in your eye.

THAT’S the thing when you’re telling your friends about your holiday. THAT’S the story you lead with. The time you got lemon in your eye.

With everything you create you have got to have something that people go away with and remember. Ask yourself “where’s the squirt of lemon?” If you don’t see it … you have more daydreaming to do.

16The thing you need to always remember is that with any project of any scale – you are going to run into roadblocks but what you do with the roadblocks will determine your success.

The trick is to not panic (easier said then done) and to remember that these roadblocks are actually a blessing and they will push you in a direction you weren’t expecting. But your product will always better for it. I promise you.

So if you don’t panic. Give yourself time to daydream up a creative solution. Try to remember that you need to be a little flexible – but don’t worry – because if you know what your goal is – and you’ve done your homework with the businesses plan  – you won’t lose your way – I promise you it always works out in the end as long as you keep moving forward towards your goal.

17If you take away one “squirt of lemon” from me tonight I hope that it’s this. TRUST THE PROCESS. This is my mantra for everything I do.

I think one thing that holds a lot of people back from completing projects is fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of not being smart enough or not being good enough or cool enough of not having enough education or not enough money.

10691923_693432434073274_1207985495_nMy advice to you is to say “fuck it”. Seriously. Fuck fear. Let it go.

You have to trust the process. Whatever that is for you. Every single one of us has a way of processing information and then expressing it through whatever creative outlet we choose and your job is to figure out what works best for you.

For me? It’s about daydreaming. I used to think I was lazy but now I recognize that laying around staring at the clouds is part of my process.

Like I said before I write all my ideas down onto a pad of paper. Even the crazy ideas and I look at it like a puzzle. This piece fits here and this piece fits here – and as the project starts to come together – everything starts to fit. I don’t think about the final product when I’m daydreaming but I do think about the goal. What is the goal? And then I trust my process.

And it might not look like how everyone else does it but it doesn’t matter because it works for me. You need to figure out what works for you.

19My last piece of advice is to get Critical Illness insurance. Again. it doesn’t sound very punk rock to go talk to someone about life insurance but as self-employed people in a creative field (most of us do not have the proper insurance).

My husband and I are both self employed and we decided we needed to make sure our family was protected. We NEVER thought we would need to cash it in but in Jan of 2013 I found a lump in my right breast that turned out to be breast cancer. Because we had purchased Critical Illness insurance I was able to to use that money to close up my beloved Sarah’s Place store without burdening my family’s finances.

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We packed everything up and put it into storage so I could focus on the cancer treatment that I needed to do.

If we didn’t have Critical Illness insurance – it could have easily bankrupted us and ruined my husbands business.

So my final piece of advice is if you have a lump – go get it checked out but make sure you have a Critical Illness policy first. Take care of yourself and your family.

Thank you so much.

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Thinklandia

screen-captureOh boy!! This is exciting!! I’ve been invited to be a part of Thinklandia!

I’ll be on the “DIY DNA” panel, Sept. 6th!

Click HERE for a little interview with me and info on the event. :)

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Plotzing!!

How awesome are these drawings done by Maria Bolton I’m plotzing!! :)

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Bye bye Ativan…

Getting off of #Ativan has not been easy. I’ve done a slowwww taper for the last few months and last night was my first night Ativan free. It was a fretful uncomfortable night but I did it!!

I am thankful for the Ativan. It got me through the worst parts of my cancer treatment and gave me the ability to sleep at night but I didn’t expect it to be so difficult to stop taking.

I’m also thankful for the advice of my friend Sho who suggested I talk to my pharmacist for advice.

They recommended the slow taper and gave me a schedule to follow.

I have a whole new perspective on drug addiction… Woof.

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Tough as nails…

Cancer treatments really mess with your fingernails. In fact I almost lost a few of them to chemo (yes they can fall off).

I’m not a fingernails person but seeing my nails grow in strong and healthy makes me feel like maybe I’m strong and healthy again. #fuckcancer

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Spreading my wings …

I’ve been spreading my wings lately and testing my travel boundaries … I did that trip to Toronto and had a little visit with my best-besty.

When I came back from Toronto I went to a family reunion in Kelowna. Gerry rode his motorcycle and I flew there and met him. We had a great weekend visiting with my step-mum’s side of the family.
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And had a blast hanging out with my parents.

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The next weekend I drove (by myself for the first time since the cancer diagnosis) to the mainland and had a nice visit with my parents and my niece Heidi.

It doesn’t sound like much of a trip – but I was really worried about my stamina. Driving to the ferry terminal. Taking the ferry. Driving from the ferry into Vancouver takes up a lot of energy … but the trip went really well. I was tired but not exhausted.

Best part of the trip was seeing my niece… I don’t get to spend a lot of time with her so in the brief 26 hours we had together I tried to cram in as much lovin’ as I could.

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I got home and didn’t bother putting away my suitcase because then I left for a solo trip to Seattle. This would be my biggest trip alone yet!

I grabbed the Anacortes ferry and drove from the mainland to Seattle to see my beloved band the Go-Go’s play a show.

I’ve NEVER driven in America before. I was a little stressed out … and I hit a minor traffic jam and had a wee panic attack that I would be late but I made it to my hotel only about 30 minutes later than I had planned.

Had a quick restorative nap in my swanky king-sized bed (self care is very important) and then met the band for a family dinner.

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The dinner was hilarious … and a disaster. I think there was about 12 or 13 of us at the table and the waiter could not have been worse. It took FOREVER for him just to get our drinks and it got worse from there. Half the table’s food arrived but it was stone cold. The other half of the table never got their food. It was a shit-show right from the start.

The last time I saw the band was New Years at the River Rock Casino and I was in a lot of pain. I had JUST finished my radiation treatment and was SO burned and SO uncomfortable. When I look back at it now … I can’t believe I went to that show. What a nut I am. Ha ha.

So even though the dinner was a disaster – I was so incredibly happy to be sitting there with my Go-Go’s family – playing catch-up and enjoying each others company. Gina leaned over to me and said “We were worried about you Hon…” in that amazing Baltimore accent of hers. Tears welled up and I slapped her arm and told her to stop being nice to me or I would start crying. Ha ha.

In the morning Jane and I met up and spent the day wandering the streets of downtown Seattle. First we hit up Evolution Fresh for green smoothies. It was right near the hotel and I think I went there 3 more items before I headed home. ha ha.

We wandered up the street to Sephora for make-up. Then hit Fluevogs in the hopes that they would have at least ONE pair of vegan shoes this season (no luck). Then we went through Pike St. Market in the search of Pirkko.

I’m not a “label” girl but I really love the Marimekko line of clothing. They are modern and fresh looking but also a little retro. Most of their clothes are made out of cotton … which is important to me because I can’t wear synthetics anymore. Too HOT! Even though my hot-flashes are much better since I started wearing that Lady-Care magnet … I find that as soon as I put on something synthetic/scratchy/tight I heat up like a burning flame.

Jane and I shopped our little butts off and then we wandered over to Veggie Grill for some sustenance. I kind of lost my mind and ordered a lot of food. Ha ha. It’s nice to have my appetite back. :)

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I’m so glad I pushed myself to do this trip solo because if Gerry had been with me I never would have spent all this one-on-one time with Jane.

It’s crazy how much we have in common … besides the same haircut. Ha ha. I love that lady like a sister. Love. We had so much fun … it was a wonderful day hanging out with my favourite Go-Go (don’t tell the others I said that).

Around 3pm we headed back to the hotel for naps (she had to perform that night) and I met up with everyone around 6pm to catch the van out to the venue. The van was LATE! So late … we spent about 40 minutes hanging outside the hotel waiting for the van to arrive. Patty Smyth from Scandal (who was also performing that night) came and joined us out front. I just HAD to take a photo. :)

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Can you imagine if you wandered by the hotel and saw all these woman hanging out? I would plotz! We finally made it to the venue (Chateau Ste. Michelle) which was gorgeous. Wow. What a nice place to watch a concert…

I left the band to let them do their warm-up thing and I went on the hunt to find my friend Greg. Because we were so late I ended up missing Naked Eyes and The Motels but did get to see the last 4 or so songs of Scandal. Patty’s voice is still so killer. #bangbang

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Then the magic started … The Go-Go’s hit the stage!!

What a fun show!! During Cool Jerk the band picks people out of the audience to come up on stage and dance. I managed to get Greg up on the stage and snapped a cute photo of him dancing.

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There is nothing cooler than seeing a grown man geek out to my favourite band. I was grinning from ear to ear the entire show. The show was FANTASTIC! I was cursing myself that I didn’t bring my camera. What was I thinking?? I managed to get a few cool shots with my iphone.

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It was so nice to be able to introduce my sweet friend Jane to my amazing friend Greg. Two punk rock icons colliding in the best way possible …

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When we got back to the hotel – I was getting out of the van and we were accosted by autograph hounds. They started screaming  “JANE JANE! Sign my record.” Jane was still in the van and that’s when I realized they were yelling at me. Ha ha.

My friend Susan said “That’s not Jane.” and he yelled “Yeah right. Why won’t you sign it? You’re an asshole!!” We started laughing and she said “You’re obviously not a fan if you think she’s Jane.

I couldn’t believe how rude he was being to us … that’s when Jane got out of the van and said “If we’re assholes then I guess we won’t sign any of your stuff.” BOOM! #micdrop It was awesome.

_6__26871.1353104219.1280.1280A few of us hung out in the hotel bar for a bit and Martha Davis from The Motels joined us. She was really nice … gave me a hug and told me I smelled amazing. :)

If you’re curious I was wearing Que Sera Sarah (a special blend made just for me by SarahWen Perfume).

I fell into bed deliriously happy.

The next morning I met up one last time with Jane and we headed to Evolution Fresh for more green drinks and I bought some food for the road.

Hung out with the ladies in the lobby while they waited for the van to load. This poor bell-boy/man/person. This wasn’t even all of the luggage…  :)

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Said a sad good-bye to the ladies and then I hit the road back to Victoria.

I am so thankful to the Go-Go’s (especially Jane) and the Go-Go’s team for all the fun in Seattle. They are an amazing group of people and all the hugs, love and support they’ve given me during all this cancer stuff has helped me more then I can put into words.

I feel like myself again. I don’t know if you fully understand how isolated you become when you do cancer treatment until you’re in the thick of it … Your life gets really small and very intense. For the first time in a long time I feel like myself again. Mojo is back!!

Now what should I do??  :)

 

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Vegan is Love

I have quite a few copies of VEGAN IS LOVE and THIS IS WHY WE DON’T EAT ANIMALS. Use the code: VEGANISLOVE and get 50% off your order. Order HERE.

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In Vegan Is Love, author-illustrator Ruby Roth introduces young readers to veganism as a lifestyle of compassion and action. Broadening the scope of her popular first book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, Roth illustrates how our daily choices ripple out locally and globally, conveying what we can do to protect animals, the environment, and people across the world.

Roth explores the many opportunities we have to make ethical decisions: refusing products tested on or made from animals; avoiding sea parks, circuses, animal races, and zoos; choosing to buy organic food; and more. Roth’s message is direct but sensitive, bringing into sharp focus what it means to “put our love into action.”

Featuring empowering back-of-the-book resources on action children can take themselves, this is the next step for adults and kids alike to create a more sustainable and compassionate world.

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